Maps: A Statistical View

Distinguished Lecture in Statistics and Biostatistics

Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 4:00 PM
Wake Forest BioTech Place Auditorium

Maps: A Statistical View. Spatial statistical analysis builds upon the premise that where something happens can influence what happens, i.e., the location of observations can provide information on the observations themselves. Location can be defined on geographic maps and in geometric space, but geography often involves information beyond simple location, distance, and direction. In this presentation, we will explore how geography influences inference in spatial statistical analyses and offer geographic insights on familiar statistical constructs such as data visualization, asymptotics, classical and Bayesian inference, weighted estimation, model diagnostics, and compromises between design and modeling. We will discuss compromises between geographic and statistical precision, statistical precision and local and global probabilistic strategies for ensuring data confidentiality. Using historical and contemporary examples, we will illustrate how maps provide a critical context for data visualization and interpretation, ranging from the known (“You are here”) to the unknown (“Here be dragons”).

Lance A. Waller, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics, and co-chair of National Academis’ Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. Dr. Waller is also a member of the U.S. Census Scientific Advisory Committee. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. His research involves the development of statistical methods for geographic data including applications in environmental justice, epidemiology, disease surveillance, and disease ecology. His research appears in biostatistical, statistical, environmental health, and ecology journals and in the textbook Applied Spatial Statistics for Public Health Data (2004, Wiley). Dr. Waller currently leads planning for the Data Science Initiative in Emory University’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

Images from Dr. Waller’s Talk: